Well, summer may well be over, but the memories can live on in beer reviews and a bit of warm sunshine from the August Bank Holiday weekend allowed me to have a beer in the garden and so it gets published on a Sunday, as is traditional, with a revolving picture. Which is less traditional. Also, I publish it later than the summer because, of course, it all got a bit busy and I had many many beers and not much time to post reviews. Instead I post this in November(!) because I have space and this is an ale that deserves a review, dammit!
However, I wrote the review itself (as shall become apparent in the next sentence) all that time ago in summer. Today I ruminate on a good day out with some family friends at Wicksteed Park, and sit in the sunny, warm garden with an ale brewed for a motoring museum that I have never visited for a lunchtime tipple (and why wouldn't you?).
Apparently I suck at animated photos. Observe the dancing glass!
Won't you join me for a further and fuller investigation into the merits and otherwise of the Brooklands Goldstar I picked up from my trip to the Hog's Back Brewery back in the holidays? I promise I won't keep you long!
It was a warm day and the bottle had been chilled, becoming quite the feature of my ale reviews I have to say, and the light of sun was bright but, thankfully, behind my head for a change. It poured well with a persistent but thin head that suggested that the chilling was a good idea; plenty of carbonation and a glistening bronze aspect to the overall colour and the twists and turns of the bubbles, shot through with golden fronds from the sunlight. I will be honest, this was less heady than the Gardener's Tipple (being the last ale drunk from the same stable, see that review here) and even the special glass didn't seem to make that much of a difference. I suspect that this was partly down to the dampening effect of the chilling. Even with the garden in full swing: wild flowers and lettuce and tomato plants; the aroma was enough to be caught without dipping my nose into the glass (what? Sometimes I have to!) and that speaks of a strength of flavour to me. Deep fuggles took the fore, supported ably by a decent light malt that had citrus hanging around on the edge without taking over. At 4.4% ABV it smelt it too, because the alcohol was barely discernible and in no danger of taking over here.
Brewed as a special ale for a museum devoted to speeding cars, this was the sort of taste that went well with the motif. I think the choice of fuggles, which I have documented before as being a fast kind of taste, may have been linked to this and they do the job well here too. It opens with cool bitterness, the sort that breaks through the smell of petrol and diesel, as I was reminded by riding at low speed in some go-karts, and rapidly rounds out to fill the mouth like a slowing set of flywheel spokes on some steam-punk contraption. I'm sure there's an engine equivalent but I know very little about the inner workings of engines (apart from some useless stuff about pistons I remember from my physics A Level). One surprise is that the small amount of citrus on the nose becomes a much bigger part of the taste but it does not overpower the crisp and clear malt that maintains the golden style and ensures that the citrus does a thirst-quenching job rather than a palate cleansing one. The bubbles are yeasty, carrying that subtle spice from the fuggles neatly, and the whole thing drains back to an almost cider-like aftertaste that does a solid job of being a summer golden ale.
I think it punches above its weight, personally, less a Mansell and more a Barrichello from 1989 - workhorse that finishes well enough in every race (including that famous one where a pile-up removed his mirror and he just kept going) to justify the salary. He weaves, he may even be lapped by the race leaders, but he never falls into despondency and is always there getting mentions and simply refusing to be forced out. Unlike many of the other greats from that year he will still be driving into the early 2000s and will actually rise through a ranks a little. He is very much like this ale. Sure, it's a special brew for a museum but it a museum that stands to carry on for a while and that suggests that this brew will be something of a staple while remaining special enough to people such as myself who don't work at either the museum or the brewery - that will enable its continued survival.
Enjoy this best when it's chilled, on a summer's day when the sun is shining. Sure, it can bring its own sunlight on a cloudy day or even a rainy one, but it won't fare well in the darkness and the cold of winter nor with the browning and yellowing leaves of autumn. Even if the colour is deep and bronze enough to match the trees have in the later months when the sun is setting and sit indoors watching through the window. Certainly no winter ale, it carries the memories of time in the sun and the breeze ruffling the leaves and the bees buzzing to create honey more than it can cope with the dearth of flowers and colour that a winter brings.
Glad I picked it up, on a par with A-Hop-Alypse Now (here) in my estimation.